KEY POINTS

  • Attorney General Letitia James is suing the gun rights lobby for financial misconduct
  • Also named in the lawsuit are two current and two former top officials 
  • The four men allegedly spent millions of dollars on jet-setting lifestyle, James said 

New York state wants to shut down the National Rifle Association, alleging that the gun rights lobby's current and former leaders spent millions of dollars to finance jet-setting lifestyles.

Attorney General Letitia James has filed a lawsuit against the NRA for diverting millions of dollars away from the group’s mission “for personal use by senior leadership, awarding contracts to the financial gain of close associates and family, and appearing to dole out lucrative no-show contracts to former employees in order to buy their silence and continued loyalty.”

Also named as defendants are Executive Vice President Wayne LaPierre and Corporate Secretary and General Counsel John Frazer, and former top officials Wilson “Woody” Phillips and Joshua Powell. Phillips was the former treasurer and chief financial officer; Powell was the former chief of staff and executive director of general operations.

James accused the men of “failing to manage the NRA’s funds and failing to follow numerous state and federal laws, contributing to the loss of more than $64 million in just three years for the NRA.”

The attorney general told reporters that the four had used the money for such things as "trips for them and their families to the Bahamas, private jets, expensive meals, and other private travel.”

James also seeks to recoup millions in lost assets and to bar the men from serving on the board of any not-for-profit charitable organization in the state .

“The NRA’s influence has been so powerful that the organization went unchecked for decades while top executives funneled millions into their own pockets,” she said. “The NRA is fraught with fraud and abuse, which is why, today, we seek to dissolve the NRA, because no organization is above the law.”

The NRA has been struggling financially for years.

James told reporters that her investigation, which started a year ago January, was not politically motivated nor based on her views of gun violence.

“We follow the facts and the law” she said, adding the NRA served as a “piggy bank” for defendants.

The corruption, and level of waste at the NRA was “broad” she added.

James noted, for example, that LaPierre spent “hundreds of thousands of dollars of the NRA’s charitable assets for private plane trips for himself and his family, including extended family when he was not present.”

LaPierre also visited the Bahamas by private air charter at least eight times over a three-year period with his family, at a cost of more than $500,000 to the NRA.

James declined to comment on President Donald Trump, whose businesses are linked to state investigataions.

On Wednesday, the New York Times reported Deutsche Bank handed over Trump’s financial records after the Manhattan District Attorney’s office issued a subpoena. The Germany-based lender has lent Trump’s companies more than $2 billion since the 1990s.

On Monday, Manhattan District Attorney District Attorney Cyrus R. Vance Jr. announced he will seek  Trump’s tax returns for the past eight years.